What do you think of when you think of drunk driving? Do you envision someone in a car, SUV or pickup truck? Perhaps you even think about someone on a motorcycle or driving a semitrailer. Your thoughts are correct, but you are missing another land vehicle that could cause you to end up under arrest for DUI — your bicycle.
Whether you ride a bike because you can’t afford a car, are concerned for the environment or enjoy the exercise, your bicycle is considered a land vehicle even though it doesn’t have a motor. You may not find your bicycle nearly as much of a danger as a motorized vehicle, but you could still pose significant harm to yourself and others.
Could you really face DUI charges on a bicycle?
The simple answer is yes. After a few drinks, you may think that you can just ride your bike home, and police can’t accuse you of riding drunk. That may not be the case. Just as alcohol compromises your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, it also diminishes your biking abilities as well. Swerving, failing to stay on a bike path or other actions could draw the attention of law enforcement.
Depending on the state a police officer finds you in, you could end up taking a breath test and participating in field sobriety tests. If the officer believes you “failed” these tests, you may end up riding in the back of a police car to the local jail or police station instead of home on your bike. If you choose not to take the situation seriously, you may face criminal penalties, along with personal ones.
If you are in college, the school could suspend you from classes and jeopardize your student loans, grants or scholarships. Other aspects of your future could be in jeopardy as well.
Perhaps you thought you were doing the right thing by riding your bicycle instead of getting behind the wheel of a car, but the state of Pennsylvania may see it differently. If you find yourself faced with charges involving drunk biking, it may benefit you to speak to an attorney before taking any further action regarding your situation. You have the right to challenge the results of the breath test and the field sobriety tests. A review of the circumstances surrounding your arrest may indicate that police violated your rights.
Unless you take steps to understand your rights and legal options, you may never know.